Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Miss Brown




She worked in the city, and would travel home via the train. I used to watch her walk down the street to her house, which was next door to mine.
"Hello, Mrs. Brown!" I shouted.
"Miss Brown!" she would firmly reply. I couldn't get it to stick in my juvenile head that the elderly man she lived with and cared for was her father, not her husband. Miss Brown had a dignified beauty, neat as a pin. I never saw her in anything except dresses, and her red hair was always worn up in a French twist. I don't believe she stood over 5'0 tall, if even that; yet for a brief time, she was a giant in my life.

I once sat on the steps outside our house, crying. Inside, my parents were screaming at each other, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. Miss Brown came over and took me by the hand, and, without a word, lead me into her parlor. Handing me a small piece of cloth, some thread, and a needle, she sat beside me and taught me how to do a running stitch. I'll never forget the deep, steady tick of the grandfather clock in that room. To this day, that sound gives me a feeling of calm.

Then there was the sunny afternoon that had suddenly turned to rain. Miss Brown's sun-dried wash was still hanging on the line. I quickly got to work and slipped the full basket through her cellar door (back in the day when a person could leave the door unlocked.) Later that afternoon, there was a knock on my door.
"Did you rescue my laundry?" She asked.
"Yes," I nodded. She smiled and handed me a china figurine. "I've had him ever since I was a child," she said, "he used to have a mate, but she broke years ago. I believe he would like to live with you now. Take care of him."

We were shuffled around a lot as kids, but everywhere I went, he went with me. With every move he was carefully wrapped in newspaper. However, on one journey when I was a teen, his head broke off. I glued it back on with clear nail polish. Hey, it worked. I'm amazed he survived after 48 years. I'm still taking care of him, Miss Brown.

There are many more stories I could tell you about her. When I get to Heaven, I'm going to give that little lady a big kiss, and thank her for being a life-raft when things were horribly stormy. I do believe there is a God Who cares, and Who places the willing in our path throughout our lives. I guess the best thank-you I can give Marion Brown is to live by the example she set.  

I bet all of us, if we tried, could look back on our pasts and remember those who stood like guide posts to Heaven, even when we were yet far off. I don't remember Miss Brown talking much, but her loving actions spoke volumes. She truly did love her neighbor.
         

26 comments:

Susan said...

This is beautiful and full of heart; they are words of life. Thank you for sharing.

* and so glad the clear nail polish held this treasure together *

Jodi said...

Susan, hee hee me too.

Ron and Theresa said...

I wounder what other adventures Miss Brown had. I loved it.

Jodi said...

Ron and Theresa, she grew beautiful roses in her side yard, and would give me some to take to the teacher on my first day of school.

GretchenJoanna said...

Wonderful, wonderful! Praise God for bringing nurturing people into our lives all along the way. It's sweet that you have the figurine to go with the memories.

monix said...

What a beautiful tribute to a very special lady. I am glad you had her in your life, just when you needed her.
Maureen

Southern Gal said...

My next door neighbor used to give me her pansies to take to my school teachers. She was so sweet like that. I'm glad you had a Miss Brown in your life. All children need one like that.

Joy Lake said...

Such great stories. I had only heard the one about the washing and the figurine but the others are really touching too. What a great lady.

Julie said...

Quick! Where are the tissues? This story had me in tears, Jodi. It's so beautiful. I'm glad you had her in your life. I'm glad I have YOU in MY life. I think you're my Miss Brown. xoxo

Cheryl said...

What lovely tales to tell. She sounds like a wonderful neighbour and there you are keeping her memory a live. I'm sure that she would find that a good tribute.

It's Just Dottie said...

Oh Jodie so heartfelt. I had someone like your Miss Brown in my life and I am like you are so thankful.
Smiles,Dottie

Leslie said...

This is a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes... you have a knack for story-telling.

Deb Colarossi said...

oh this made me cry.
And you are so very right. And wise.
And no doubt a Miss Brown to many.

oxxo

Dewena Callis said...

What a beautiful story of this lady, Jodi! And you made me see her so clearly. What you wrote reminds me of something that Gladys Taber wrote about certain people being "fence posts" in our life. And doesn't it just show how important it is for us to watch for those who need us to be a Miss Brown to them? There was a sadness in reading this post, for you as a child, but it was so lovely.

Zach said...

I always liked that your story/stories about Ms. Brown when I was growing up. Your description of Ms. Brown reminds me of Mark Twain's "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven." Twain, an atheist, was conjecturing about eternity as much as anyone else who has written on it, but I thought that there was a lesson to take from his characters who in life did their righteous acts in secret and for their own sake, and unexpectedly found themselves numbered among heaven's nobility

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

A beautiful tribute to a woman with heart and strength, too. I love this little figure and can't quite figure out what nation or occupation it represents.......What do you think? I have two figures, a little Bo Peep and a Little Boy Blue from the same era, I think. Treasures from my childhood. Oh, you've given me a lot to think about, as always, Jodi! Thank you!

Sara said...

Everyone else has already said whatever I would have said, so I will just add that I love your Miss Brown, though I never knew her. Thank you for the introduction to this beautiful heart.

Beth Stone said...

A beautiful tribute for a beautiful person... thanks for sharing.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I think he is a Dutch Boy from the ceramic art studio, same people who did my two figurines.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

He's on this page with his girlfriend, more than halfway down.
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&_nkw=ceramic+arts+studio&_ipg=200&rt=nc

Jodi said...

Thanks Kristi! The link you gave me wouldn't work, but when I searched ebay, the ones I saw were salt and pepper shakers - this one is not a shaker. Hmmmm :) I'll keep looking.:)

Nancy said...

Oh! Please, please, please tell more stories about Miss Brown! This world of woe could use more good stories, and you told these ones well.

And I could almost hear that clock ticking. It sounded like peace.

Tamara Murphy said...

Beautiful - every word. Thank you!

Connie Smiley said...

Oh Jodi, this is so beautifully written, and obviously from the heart. I read it with misty eyes, and hope you'll put it all down in a book some day.

Quotidian Life said...

Thank you, Jodi, for this beautifully written story of neighborly love. It too imagine too that you are a Mrs. Brown to many.

Quotidian Life said...

Thank you, Jodi, for this beautifully written story of neighborly love. It too imagine too that you are a Mrs. Brown to many.

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